Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Croatia, land of a thousand Ivans

Names are funny things... and I'm thoroughly obsessed with them. These tags that are assigned to us shortly after birth often end up becoming pivotal to our personalities and in some cases, a kind of aphrodisiac. There's nothing sexier than a sexy moniker.

Have you ever noticed how some people actually possess certain characteristics associated with their names? Is a Victor or a Victoria ever a loser? Is an Elizabeth ever less than regal...or a Katherine/Katharine/Catherine/Kate/Cate? Have you ever met a Ryan, a Brendan, a Matias, a Federico, or a Nathan who wasn't hot? Is Alex (male or female) ever a dummy?

I once dated another Jeremy in New York City when I was in my early twenties, and I was convinced we wouldn't work because we were too much alike. We didn't.

I've been sizing up names for much of my adult life, but I'd never given much thought to Ivan...until last week. Although Ivan was my favorite character in The Brothers Karamazov, I can only remember meeting one in real life, shortly after I moved to Buenos Aires. It was a good date, and he was certainly cute, but he was no Matias or Federico.

The name was most significant to me as an Eastern European equivalent of John, Juan, Ian, Sean, Shaun, Shawn, Shane, Giovanni, Gianni, Jan, Johann, Hans, and Jean. Then I went to Croatia and everything changed. After my first encounter with an Ivan (who quickly pointed out the "John" connection), it seemed like I couldn't get out of bed without meeting another one. Soon it became a thing. I'd walk up to random guys and ask if they were named Ivan.

Often the were. The only other name I stumbled upon as frequently was Ivica (pronounced like Evita Peron's first name with an extra S: Evitsa). One Ivan worked at Sky Bar in Dubrovnik, our final destination on my birthday night. After describing Ivan as "the most common male name in Croatia," he introduced me to two of his colleagues with the same name (and an Ivica or two).

When does that ever happen? Three Ivans were working in one nightclub, all cute, all sweet, and all, sadly, straight - the latter of which applied to every Ivan (and Ivica) I met in Croatia. #Tears

Croatian Ivans and me: A photo album

Ivan No. 1 and me


Uni Ivan and me


"Skipper" Ivan and me


Toto's Ivan and me


Sky Bar Ivan No. 1 and me


Sky Bar Ivan No. 2 and me


Sky Bar Ivan No. 3 and me